Amazing Art – Amazing Sister

My sister Leah Florence is the most incredible artist. She does these super original, creative and epic pieces that have been VERY quickly finding success in almost every place she goes to. She does these fabulous portraits that she pairs with stories from real life and real people. I’m very lucky that she did a piece on my little family that I’m excited to show it off.  I seriously want to do a wall of her work at our house, especially the ones that highlight my family (parents, sisters, brother etc.) If you have ever thought it would be great to put up family pictures but wanted to do it in an original way, I would suggest commissioning her to do some artwork for you. Its incredible!

 

thecostafamily-web_leahflorence

An Indulgent Post about my Baby Girl

*I wrote this about a year ago and never posted it. I just found it and wanted to share. Amazing to read past thoughts… ;)

princess_party_guest_toddler

Like most Moms, I’m totally obsessed with my baby girl. I had no idea when I got pregnant with Georgiana that I was about to meet the most beautiful, amazing and special little girl on the planet. It really is true that your kids are the light of your life and Georgiana is no exception. How is it possible that every morning when she wakes up I just can’t believe that this perfect little soul is all mine?  What you don’t know before you have a baby is that your heart is still not fully mature until you have a baby of your own. Then suddenly you heart magically grows twice the size and you feel its warmth beating steadily for your baby all day long. And the love you had for your husband grows stronger too as you see his full potential shine through in all he does as a father. My Grandpa Ozzy once said to me that when he see’s a young couple go from being childless to a family it gives him joy. It was because he felt that until you have kids the marriage relationship wasn’t truly fulfilled. I now know what he meant. Its not that I love Michael more now magically, but we have more love to share than we could ever have had before.

The innocents and perfection of a child is an exquisite and precious thing to be around on a daily basis. To see Georgiana’s eyes light up for the smallest things is so incredible to witness. Its like she’s showing me how amazing life is all around me that I haven’t noticed in awhile. Her love of dancing to whatever music she hears (including the bells chiming at the courthouse downtown) teaches me to dance with her as well. Having a child is amazing because if I was out at the courthouse dancing by myself people might think I’m homeless. But to have the excuse to dance at any moment while I’m with her gives me a great sense of freedom. To see her get excited about the smallest thing like a Squirmel (little fuzzy worm with a piece of thread attached to its nose) is sometimes too much to handle. She squeals with delight and even demands to snuggle with it during her nap. Her little teeth are slightly spaced apart and her blonde hair and her pointy ears makes her look like a little impish fairy elf. I just want to gobble her up on a minute by minute basis. At night after I’m exhausted and she has gone to bed, its usually only an hour or so before I miss her and have to go creepily stare at her while she sleeps. Sometimes when she wakes up when she isn’t suppose to I’m secretly happy so I can snuggle with her again. Its like a bonus.

After reading this you are probably thinking that I’m over glamorizing motherhood and that I’m conveniently not putting in the crazy moments. Well, I do have crazy moments. But in my opinion, anything that is worth it is hard. Losing weight is hard. Flossing your teeth regularly is hard. Working is hard. Marriage is hard. Motherhood is hard. But you know what is harder? Being a single, toothless, obese homeless person with no children. That’s REALLY hard.  Children are the best.

10 Ways to Retain Sanity While Parenting a Toddler

 

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I’ve been waiting to write something like this at a time that I am in a moderate  mood. Its easy to write a rant on bad day or recount the most magical experience on a good one.  Recently I’ve been experiencing a two year old  that not only has been doing the cutest things possible but has also has been testing her boundaries constantly. One minute I’m in complete elation from her ecstatic joy on the train at the zoo. The next I’m telling Michael he needs to moderate a conflict resolution meeting between myself and Georgiana due to her constant testing of my nerves.  The thought of having more children is extremely difficult to wrap my brain around, especially the pregnancy part. So I have decided to document my thoughts on how to create a sane environment during these amazing yet challenging toddler years.

1. Structure. Having places to go and things to do that both myself and Georgiana enjoy is huge. Especially in the afternoon when the need to kill a solid 2-3 hours is the difference between a happy day and one that results in searching the internet for toddler boarding school. (thankfully NOT a true story  but you get the idea)

2. Rules and Regulations. Georgiana LOVES to test boundaries. If I don’t have down what exactly she can and can’t do then she walks all over me. She knows full well when she is doing something she isn’t suppose to and also knows the repercussions. Being unemotional and not taking personal offense when she pulls a chunk of my hair out at the checkout line at the grocery store is important (sadly that is a true story). I think of myself as Ms. Stacey from Anne of Green Gables. A sweet and lovable teacher from the Victorian era who is still strict and exacting. I demand respect but it takes a lot of energy…

3. Help. HELP! I mean, get help when you need it. Having a babysitter or a few days at preschool is not only a welcome change for both myself and Georgiana but is the difference between us having meaningful time together and having just tiiiiiiime together (and lots of it).  Remember when you’d have sleepovers as a kid and your friend stayed a little longer than you really wanted and before you knew it you were so sick of them you were making up excuses for them (or you) to leave? Sometimes a little distance does make the heart grow fonder. I’m not saying just check the kid into 24 hour daycare but maybe pre arrange a little time for you and him/her to have some fun apart. I’m finding it makes all the difference in the world

4. Get a hobby (aka a side-life). More than anything I need something in my life that I can grasp onto that vaguely reminds me of who I was BEFORE I had Georgiana. Being a Mom is the BEST but its also feels like it all about everyone else in your home but you. Between the needs of your spouse and kids its almost as if you are a shadow of person you once were doing tasks that you don’t care about but are somehow very necessary and take up all your time. Wiping butts, doing dishes, taking kids temperatures, reading “If you give a mouse a cookie” 1 million times and clocking hours on end at parks are some of the things that never realized would comprise ALL my time after having a baby. Of course I want my child to be healthy, happy and fed. But I’d like to also enjoy some of my own interests as well. Having a blog (oh, you thought I was just an avid cook not a Mom on the edge of having the baby blues?), a small business, volunteering for things you are passionate about can all make the difference between a Zombie Apocolypse Mom and a bright smiling one that people enjoy being with that isn’t constantly complaining about the depressing aspects of their life. Get a side-life and VOILA you will have a life again.

5. Schedule time to be with your spouse. I’ve found if you schedule time to be with your husband/wife other than working through the day to day minutia then you’ll be treat each other nicer and overall life will be easier. Scheduling time alone without the kid(s) is absolutely crucial for sanity in the home. I spend every waking second of Georgiana’s day figuring out how to make her happy and enjoy life. So when she goes to bed its only fair that I get some alone time with my husband where Georgiana is NOT invited. It gives Michael and I some time to just relax or talk about things we really need to go over but just hadn’t had the time during the day. It keeps us close and tight like the BFF’s we are. But when we don’t have time together for one reason or another I find we are bickering more, are not as kind and overall more vexed.

6. Take care of yourself. Go to the gym, get your hair done and above all take a shower and get ready! Its is beyond important to not lose a sense of yourself in all the surrounding chaos. There has been absolutely nothing better than getting random compliments from strangers on how cute Georgiana is AND that I look great too. I have worked my butt off (literally) to be able to go from flab to fab. For me, its less about the superficiality of looking decent but more that I look and feel myself. Carve out the time to be healthy and you will feel fabulous inside first and that will project outward.

7. Pray. If you’re not religious, meditate. I spend A LOT of time praying. I fall asleep every night praying. For me is  about conversing with a higher power about the day. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? How can I solve this problem with Georgiana, Michael or a loved one or friend. Are we on the right track with our business, life and decision? I ask, I listen. Thinks get worked out in my head. I start to feel clear of anxiety and stress. And that’s when I fall into a blissful sleep….

8. Love your child and the rest will fall into place. Georgiana is an absolute doll. She is funny, charismatic and adorable. She is cunning, smart and full of life. What is there not to love about that!? When I’m burdened with days that are tedious I just need to think about what life would be like without her. And its TERRIBLY boring. She brings meaning, purpose and most of all love to my life that would be impossible to acquire in any other way.

9. Remember there is a future. I won’t be running after my sprinting child headed for the street forever. It won’t always take a 1/2 hour just to leave the house. Rashes, fevers and exploding diapers at the park won’t always be just around the corner for me. Take a breath. The hard things of this time period WILL end. So just don’t worry about them as much.

10.  Relish in the NOW. The troubles of today will melt away and a whole new set will present themselves in the future. Be present in the magic that is all around and know that it won’t last forever. For better or worst.

toddler_joy

Grocery Shopping Tips

Do you find yourself at the store wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out what to buy and cook? Do you throw away vegetables and meats on a regular basis because you forgot they were in the fridge? Do you often forget something and have to go back to the store later to pick it up? Well, fear not. Below is a foolproof way to save money, time and energy by following a few simple rules before grocery shopping. Try it out once and you’ll never go back. Enjoy!

1. Have a small magnetic white board on your fridge so that you can write down things you need right when you remember them. There’s nothing more annoying then going back to the store to get that bag of sugar that you didn’t remember ran out last month.

white_board_grocery_list

2. Look through your fridge before you go shopping to see what food you still have that you should remember to incorporate in next weeks meals. Also, take a peek in your pantry to see if you are running low on staples (onions, garlic etc) and also what dry good you should try to use up.

2. Write a shopping list. I write on the top of the paper what I’m making for dinner for the week  and then the list of ingredients I need to buy below. If you want to get super organized, make three columns under your dinner ideas. In your mind divide up your grocery store into three parts (left, middle, right) and as you are writing your list write your grocery items in the appropriate column. This will actually save you a good amount of time while shopping so you aren’t running all over the store. Try it once and you’ll see…. After I’m done shopping I tuck that paper under my magnetic white board with the menu peaking out of the top to remind me what meals I planned on for the week.

grocery_list_menu

3. Start on the side of the store that has more bulky/sturdy items like bottled water. End up on the side of the store that has the fruits and vegetables so you don’t end up crushing your produce

4.  Put away items away in their respective categories. When you get home,  take out all the grocery’s out and put them on the counter.  Then put away the frozen goods first, then meats, dairy, vegetables and finally whatever isn’t refrigerated.

5. Write on your white board the expiration date for meat and a list of veggies in the crisper. Its good to section off a little space to write what meats you have in the fridge and their expiration date. That will help avoid having to throw expensive meat away because you forgot its expiration date. Also, write a list of the vegetables in your crisper so you can make sure to use those up before they go bad.

Hope this was helpful and will make grocery shopping a little less hectic and bit more fun. ;)

Hopes Wishes and Dreams

When I’m in a situation that I feel comfortable with a friend or family member I ususally like to ask, “So, what are your hopes wishes and dreams?” My brother-in-law Mike told me once that he knows if he comes near me that I’m going to launch into some deep conversation with him so he has to prepare. haha. Anyway, I like to figure out what it is at the core of people’s hearts. What do they really want for their life? What makes them tick? The findings are often extremely interesting. There are a lot of people out there that haven’t really given any dreams a second thought. They just want to live a comfortable life and enjoy the ride. Others have these gigantic goals that involve world travel, fame, fortune and all the rest. I don’t really think there is such a thing as a small dream or a big dream. Whatever your dream is, its your dream!

For me, I’ve always been a  dreamer. I’m always coming up with some scheme or goal to accomplish whatever it is that I’m after. And even though my dreams have changes, the core energy behind what has fueled my dreams has stayed the same. I have finally realized after years of chasing my tail that what I want for myself isn’t fame, fortune, world travel or a mansion to call my home. What I want is to really experience my life. I just want to refine myself, improve and constantly “level up.” I have no idea why this is so important to me, but it is. Whenever I master something, I create a new goal for myself before I’ve even appreciated reaching that milestone. And since I’ve learned this about myself recently its also brought about a sort of melancholy over my dreams. Because before when I would dream about something, there came that magical intoxicating infatuation with whatever the outcome would be. As if in the moment of achieving that specific dream, all my worries would melt away and I would have finally “made it.” But I’ve realized that doesn’t exist because there will always be a new dream on deck ready to make my life “perfect.”  My life is my life and it will always have problems because I keep creating them myself. If one has a goal it means that there is a perceived problem. And the only way for it to be solved is by working towards that goal. If I felt like we needed bigger place, for instance, then I’d work hard until we got it and once we got it I’d find another thing I needed (like a bigger car) and work towards that and so on and so on. There will always be a problem (life) that needs to be solved (goal). And being content with what you have doesn’t work either because then it leads to really depressing things like becoming complacent and stagnant which can only lead to therapy. So while my quest for all my current dreams hasn’t been halted by my recent realization, it has made me face a new level of maturity that I hoped I’d never have to face. And that is reality. Having dreams that are based in reality means that success will come quicker because there are no delusions or ego getting in the way. It also means that the magical moment that you hoped would happen when all your problems would disappear if you work hard enough is erroneous. The carrot is gone. In its place is satisfaction in a job well done and working hard to be a refined individual. Its not as glamorous but at least its honest. And to be fair, since having a family of my own a new magic has set in that I never expected or knew existed. So I find myself working harder than ever but having more joy in the little moments of the day. My baby makes me slow down and appreciate what is already around me. And I’m grateful. Very grateful. I guess I’ve grown up. So to end this I have to ask. What are your hopes, wishes and dreams?

p.s – After writing this I felt there was one more thing that needed to be mentioned. Many of my dreams have already been realized and life IS better and fantastic! But day to day the magic of achieving those dreams has worn off  and I seem to take things for granted. And therefore, any future dreams are really just icing on the cake. Dreams really do come true. But it takes a lot to relish in them on a day to basis. Okay, thats it for now…

Quitting Diet Soda. A 6 Step Program.

Even though I’ve quit diet soda it doesn’t mean that I have any judgements on those that haven’t. I drank it for so long (see figure 1 below) that I had my share of people warning me and wagging their fingers at my bad habit. Let’s be real, we all know diet soda is bad for you! Its not really a secret. So, if you have found this page because you are looking to quit, are curious or merely feeling guilty and wanting to see what other’s have done, then welcome! Whatever stage of your diet coke relationship just  know that its possible to have a successful break up if you want. I’m sharing what I did and hope that it helps those looking for a solution. Just for the heck of it I listed some additional adverse affects of drinking diet soda just in case there’s a few you haven’t heard. How cool would it be if in the future diet coke was only used to make explosions with mentos!?

a-gallon-of-diet-coke-straight-to-the-dome

Quitting Diet Soda. 6 Step Program.

1. Admit that diet soda is adversely affecting your health (see reasons below)

2. Make a commitment to stop drinking it completely and to never take another sip. (This step is important!)

3. Stop drinking diet soda

4. Stock up with replacement drinks that are aspartame free. Sparkling water naturally flavored with lemon or lime is great as well as Zevia (Zevia is sweetened with Stevia which is a natural sweetner). If necessary you may allow yourself to drink a little regular soda (like one bottle of mexican coke) to take the edge off in the beginning. I found this helpful since I don’t really like sugary drinks and am not in danger of overindulging.  However, if you feel this will result in another addiction then steer clear.

5. Keep caffeine pills on hand for emergencies. I know this also sounds like a recipe for another addiction but hear me out.  My hypothesis is that those that overdo it on diet soda aren’t the same people that overdo it on caffeine. Those are the energy drink/espresso drinkers. Diet soda people have more of a thing with eating and the caffeine addiction is a residual of that. Taking a little caffeine in pill form isn’t nearly as fun as drinking a diet soda and definitely not as delicious. So if you are putting off quitting diet soda because your concerned about your caffeine headaches then just take a little caffeine in pill form until you can wean yourself off. A diet soda has about 50 mg’s of caffeine. The pills I found are 200 mg’s so I just cut them in half and then in half again with a butter knife. Easy!

6. Congratulate yourself for your victory over diet soda and recommit daily to staying diet soda free!

Grocery List:

Zevia (found at Whole Foods or online. Their cola flavor does have caffeine in it)

Sparkling Water (I get a box with 12 can’s naturally flavored with lemon & lime)

Caffeine Pills (You can find this in any drugstore and most grocery stores)

Diet Soda Fun Facts!

Metabolic Syndrome results in some pretty scary symptoms. This was the least scary picture I found but if you google “metabolic syndrome” you’ll get the idea. Not cute.

diet_soda_metabolic_syndrome

Aspartame converts to Menthanol in your system which then turns into formaldehyde. Yikes! The results of this are:

Symptoms from methanol poisoning are many, and include:

  • Headaches
  • Ear buzzing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Chills
  • Memory lapses
  • Numbness and shooting pains in the extremities
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Neuritis

The origins of aspartame are unfortunately just as suspect as aspartame itself. Here is a timeline of how and why aspartame was approved by the FDA. I hate to bag on the government as I know Washington is normally full of people with integrity (note sarcasm) but here are the FACTS.

Hope you enjoyed and please update me on your progess!