Out of My Comfort Zone

I love to take pictures – you know that. Being behind the camera is my comfort zone, no doubt about it. I’ve been lucky enough to be hired to take pictures for other families and capture moments in time that they will cherish years from now. It’s why I do what I do.

Well, it’s time for me to update my website and pursue this hobby a bit more. Step one (for me) is to get some head shots done. I had a fresh haircut and a cute dress and a great location in mind. My little family and I trekked out there and I set my camera’s settings and stepped out of my comfort zone as my trusty assistant (aka my husband) took some photos of me. He did a really great job! I love how the pictures came out. Check them out.
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Adorable, right? I couldn’t resist getting some of my 3 year old too. In all her farmer’s market face painting glory.

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It was such a lovely day – the sun was shining bright, it was a tad too warm but this big birch tree provided tons of shade. It was a fun shoot even though I did get stung by a bee walking to the tree (it’s finally not hurting anymore!).

Lesson learned: take my camera out more and don’t be afraid to get in front of it!

June Update / July Goals

Another month has flown by! I have to say that I’m really loving having these goals out there. I feel like I’m more apt to keep to them and I love a little accountability. Let’s see how I did in June.

Read 3 books. Blew this one out of the water! I read 5 (!) books in June! I finished Paddle Your Own Canoe and Mockingjay as well as 3 others. My favorite was We are Water. We’ve had the TV off lots during June which allowed me to have more time to read. It’s definitely refreshing. We signed up Emily for a summer reading program too!

Declutter our bedroom. Nope – hasn’t happened. We enjoyed more time outside and at events on the weekends than working on decluttering. I should save this for cooler months anyways.

At least 1 beach day and 1 hike with my family. Half done. We bought a yearly pass to the state beaches and parks and went to the beach in June. Still need to make it to that hike.

JulyGoalsGather up some craft supplies to sell. I don’t have as much time to devote to making cards and scrap booking as I used to and I have a ton of stamps and other accouterments sitting on shelves and in boxes. I might as well gather some together to sell somewhere.

Get our house powerwashed. We found a really great guy to do it, just needs to be scheduled. It will be so nice when our house is sparkling again.

Have an awesome vacation. We have friends visiting for a week in July and it’s going to be a good time. I hope to edit/share photos from that week before the month ends!

Read 3 books. I know that I read 5 in June and I really should up this number but with vacation and other things going on, I want to keep it realistic.

May Update / June Goals

Let’s see how May went, shall we?

Read 4 books. Fail! I only read one…and it was an audiobook. I started 4 books in May but never had the attention span to actually finish any of them! Summer hits and so do the outdoor projects and activities and that’s my excuse. Woops.

Schedule a dentist appointment for EmilyJust realizing that I have a message out to the dentist and haven’t heard back about an appointment and it’s been 6 days so I need to follow-up on this. So this one is in progress. Turns out they didn’t get back to me because they’re not accepting new patients but we’ve scheduled Emily for Scott’s dentist instead.

Plant my garden. Done! I have cukes, tomatoes (two heirloom) and herbs all planted. We also planted some flowers and some perennials but I have one or two more planters I need to finish.

Keep my phone somewhere else when I get home.Sort of? Not too great on this. Some days I was, some days I wasn’t.

June 2014 Goals

Read 3 books. I’m going to keep doing monthly reading goals because I’ve committed to reading more this year. I’m in the middle of one audio book (Mockingjay) and one ebook (Paddle Your Own Canoe). Let’s see if I can keep it up!

Declutter our bedroom. Last month I finally put away laundry…I seriously hadn’t done that all year. When I got frustrated with not having space in my closet or drawers for all the clothes, I started purging. Two garbage bags later, I rid my closet of clothes that made me feel dumpy and frumpy when I wore them. I still have two more drawers to go through before I feel I’m complete with this task. The bedroom has also become a place where we stick old furniture and things without a home so those pieces need to leave this month – whether they go into the basement for storage or donate them somewhere. I’m reclaiming my space!

At least 1 beach day and 1 hike with my family. We’ve wanted to get a pass to all the state parks and I think this year is the year. It pays for itself after 3 beach visits so we might as well. There’s a great hiking trail near our home that we haven’t been on this year yet so June will be it!

April Update / May Goals

April was pretty awesome when it came to my goals. I was pretty spot on. It helps that the weather got a little warmer and Spring always makes me feel like accomplishing things. So here’s how I did:

Read at least 3 books. I read not just 3 books, but 5 books this month! That’s amazing! I even have officially read more books in 2014 than I have in all of 2013 and we’re only a little over a quarter of the way through the year. This month, I’ve made it a priority to read in bed plus I’ve read some great books this month that really helped.

Go to a Yoga class 5 times. I only went to Yoga 4 times last month but I still call this a success. I missed one week because of a bad cold/ear infection that went through my house. I look forward to nothing more than my Yoga session each week.

Plant lettuce and spinach. Success! Planted both but the planter I had for the spinach is cheap and I didn’t realize it doesn’t have drainage holes so it’s been under water for a while. I have to remedy that. Planted some lettuce and it’s starting to come up a little in the planter.

Go on more family walks and hikes. Meh on this one. I’ve gone for more walks than I have in the previous months of the year but not as many as we should have. There were times that Scott took Emily for a walk while I finished a painting project at home…

Plan a fun, tiny party for Emily’s birthday. Totally happened! How do I have a three year old? We had a great day with pizza and cake and just relaxing with Emily’s grandparents. Totally do not regret that at all. Especially since it was Easter weekend so we were on the go the entire weekend.

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May Goals

Read 4 books. This is going to be an ongoing goal – giving myself that “me” time at night.

Schedule a dentist appointment for Emily. We’ve been slacking on this but there’s a great children’s dentist in our area. One thing I hate to do is schedule things. I always procrastinate that!

Plant my garden. We planted our garden on Memorial Day last year and my current plan is to plant again that weekend. Definitely doing tomatoes and lettuce and herbs. But I think we’ll need to build a separate raised bed for cucumbers since they took over my garden last year. I love fresh cucumbers but they made such a mess of my tomato plants. Lesson learned!

Keep my phone somewhere else when I get home. I have a bad habit of checking work email or other apps when I should be spending time with my family. Stuff on the internet is not as important as my little family. During dinner prep, having dinner as a family, etc, I plan to keep my phone out of my hands.

April Goals

A sure sign of spring.

 

I’m going to start posting my monthly goals and updates on those goals as a way to keep myself in check with you all. If I write it down for all to see, I’m more likely to stick to it, right?

Read at least 3 books. My GoodReads goal this year is to read 25 books this year and so far I’ve read at least 3 books each month. Giving myself that time to wind down at night with my Kindle is the perfect way to have me time. I find I sleep so much better on the nights that I read a little before bed, even if I can only make it three pages in before my Kindle falls on my face!

Go to a Yoga class 5 times. My SiL introduced me to a wonderful yoga studio and we are trying to meet up once a week in April for a class. So I bought a 5 class pass and I’m committed! I’m new to yoga but I can already see the benefits – less stress, flexibility, feeling more in tune with my body, etc.

Plant lettuce and spinach. I’ve never planted from seeds but definitely want to try this Spring. I heard that I could plant now and have some lettuce plants available for Spring.

Go on more family walks and hikes. This winter was rather cold and dreadful and warm weather means get out of the house and enjoy nature!

Plan a fun, tiny party for Emily’s birthday. My baby is turning 3! We’ve decided to have a small grandparent party the weekend of her birthday and a bigger gathering in May when we need help in putting something exciting together for her birthday.

 

Five for Friday

.1.

Anyone else feel like this week went by slow as molasses?? I’m not sure why but it has. So yay for Friday! I have dinner slowly cooking in the crock pot (a tastefully simple beef sauce over browned stew beef which I will place over some noodles. Easy peasy and I won’t have to think about it later which is awesome) and not sure what else we’ll plan for this evening but I’m looking forward to some couch time with my family.

.2.

As I start to be more knowledgeable and aware of harmful ingredients in cosmetics and lotions and potions, I’ve been slowly turning to more natural products. One thing I’ve been hesitant to try is natural, aluminum free deodorant. Well, I recently joined a few Facebook groups for my town and found a woman who makes soaps and just started making deodorants and luckily she sells a small size of the deodorant so I can try it before getting the big one. She has an Etsy shop but I’m going to pick up my order from her this weekend and report back! I am excited to try her Earl Gray soap too.

(Also, I cannot spell deodorant on the first try. Thanks spell check.)

.3.

At the beginning of February we enrolled Emily into preschool 3 days a week knowing that we’d have her there 5 days a week by summer. She loved it so much and we could see how much growth she had in so many areas that we upped it to 5 after a couple of weeks. The first week she went full time she had some separation anxiety which was just so heartbreaking. I would have to leave her in full on tears and sobs and….it sucked. We reevaluated things and started a new morning routine where I don’t emphasize going to school and I set her up with a little snack once we’re there and she’s been an angel! It’s made my mornings so much better and sets the tone for my day. I was down right miserable the days I’d have to leave her sobbing but now my days are that much better.

.4.

2 more weeks until spring! I’m not one to be all “I’m over winter, boohoo” because I live in New England and we have winters and springs and summers and falls. This winter was a bit brutal. Polar vortex nonsense and even now there’s still a ton of ice everywhere. I’m done. So happy to see that we’ll have several days above freezing to look forward to started tomorrow.

.5.

I’ve been in such a workout slump the past few weeks. I love going to the gym in the mornings but by the time I arrive at work afterwards the parking spots fill up especially since there’s still snow piles everywhere. This spring thaw will help a lot and I can finally get back to my routine. That’s twice I’ve mentioned the warmer weather. I’m excited is what I am saying.

Toddler Potty Training Success

Potty Success

Yup, I’m going there. Over time and as my girlfriends’ kids have grown up, I’ve learned that optimal potty training age is between 2.5-3 years old. As time has gone by and we kept getting closer and closer to E turning 3, we knew it would be time to start potty training. In my head, I figured the first of the year would be a good time to start planning on training. I figured that in December we had a Disney trip and then the holidays and I didn’t want the process to be overwhelming for any of us.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in parenting is that the child is running the show.  When E was ready, she was ready whether it was the ideal time or not. I mean, the kid caused me to be in labor for 30 hours and then had to be surgically removed after all that so she does things on her own timeline is what I’m saying.

The weekend after Christmas we went shopping for E’s big girl bed. For months she hadn’t been sleeping all night in her converted crib and I thought (hoped) having a new bed would magically change things. Literally the day we picked up the mattress something just clicked in E and all of a sudden she wanted to go on the potty. We didn’t mean for all this change at once, but here we were.

What Helped Us Potty Train*

1. Pick up a potty seat and have it out in the open and talk about it. I had picked up a potty seat (this one if you are interested. I love it because it was cheap and it’s easy to clean.) and placed it in the bathroom when E was 18 months old. We talked about it and saw it every day for over a year. It was normal and comfortable.

2. Wait for the toddler to be ready. We didn’t push E to potty train at a certain age. I heard some awful stories about how frustrating it was trying to potty train for the sake of potty training. In my opinion, there’s not a perfect time except for the right time. Which is always not exactly when you want to do it or when “society” says to do it or your grandma says to do it. Personally, I think the child should have the motor skills to pull up and down their pants and to start to acknowledge when they are wet or dry.

3. Be calm, this too shall pass. We spent a weekend at home just focusing on E going on the potty every 15-20 minutes. There were many accidents but we never yelled or got angry. We just cleaned it up and put on a fresh pair of pull ups or undies.

4. Have the toddler be involved in the process with rewards, etc. Since the timing of potty training E occurred around the holidays, I had lots of new toys that I put away so we could rotate them with her old toys. Then I thought, “why not use the new toys as rewards for using the potty?” Genius! If I hadn’t had these gifts, I would have gone to the Dollar Spot at Target and pick out some little toys. We also used chocolate as rewards and I had E put a virtual “sticker” on the Potty Time app board each time she went. She loved seeing how many were already there and kept saying “almost there!” after each sticker was placed.

5. Be consistent. It’s so easy to use diapers or pull ups, but being consistent about wearing undies is key. We weren’t going to go backwards after spending all this time and energy on potty training so it was full steam ahead! After a couple of weeks of using pull ups we did the undies thing during the day no matter what.

6. Don’t be afraid to leave your house. It frightened me the first few times we left the house without the protection of a pull up. I always make sure E uses the bathroom before we leave and when we arrive to places. When we would go to a restaurant or store I’d say “Don’t you want to see what their potty looks like?” to get E excited to go while we were out and about. Of course, that backfires because she wants to see the bathrooms 12 times during a meal. But at least she’s jazzed about it!

It’s been 8 weeks since we started potty training and it’s been great! E started at preschool a few weeks ago and we stopped having her use pull ups at night around then. We still have some accidents here or there (waterproof mattress pads save us!) but otherwise it’s been awesome. She is growing up so fast.

* I’m not claiming to be an expert and I know every toddler is different. This is just what worked for us. Feel free to leave any helpful hints or suggestions in the comments.