Closing Out 2021

Happy Tuesday!

It’s only 3am and already I’ve been wide awake for about an hour. I’m not really sure what it was that woke me, but here I am just the same. As I contemplate whether or not I want a cup of coffee, I thought I’d take some time out in the quiet of the night to reflect on the end of one year, the beginning of the next, and the Christmas that didn’t quite feel like Christmas.

Honestly, I started out the month of November in a place where I was mentally very ready for Christmas. I was excited and absolutely in the spirit. The Halloween decorations came down and the Christmas decorations went up. I began planning out all of my holiday baking, starting with peanut clusters that I made in the Crock-Pot.

Thanksgiving came and went. While Thanksgiving use to be something I looked forward to each year, it’s hard to do so anymore. I love the food more than I can say, but my stomach doesn’t agree. Around the second week of December, my oldest daughter fell ill. When she tested positive for COVID, everyone in our home was forced to quarantine until just a couple of days before Christmas. It should have ended there, allowing us to return to life as usual but, exactly one week after my daughter, I tested positive as well. With temperatures outside well into the 70s, my sense of taste and smell missing, an inability to get out and shop for Christmas, and family drama that I had no desire to be a part of, my Christmas spirit faded.

Still, though, even when you aren’t in the mood to celebrate, you try to appear excited for your kids. My older children understood. I just wasn’t feeling up to it. A couple of days before Christmas, my husband took me to the doctor to retest because his family really wanted us to be able to attend the family gathering. When we returned to the house, my children greeted us at the door. They said they knew I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit, so they wanted to do something to change that. They had hung the stockings and cut out paper snowflakes. The snowflakes were hung on the windows and walls. It was such a simple, but equally sweet gesture.

In case you are wondering, I decided to get a cup of coffee after all. I love my Honeyduke’s mug. Don’t you?

Since I tested negative and no one else in the home was testing positive (we were very careful not to expose others), my husband and I decided to hurry up and get some Christmas shopping done. We were delighted to see that, since it was Christmas Eve, most stores had already marked things down. Even the toys were half-priced! Within two hours, our shopping was complete, stocking stuffers included. We hurried home, got things wrapped, and spent the rest of the afternoon playing Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker together.

Christmas morning came and I was far too anxious to let anyone sleep in, so I woke everyone up. This was the first Christmas that Presley would be fully aware of what was going on; the first where she would actually open her own presents and interact with them.

We all have little traditions, whether they’ve been carried down from yesteryear or they began with us and our own children. For me, it’s wrapping paper tucked into the bottoms of the stockings. I never use gift labels at Christmas. Instead, I use a different wrapping paper for each person and I place a small square of that paper in the bottom of the corresponding stocking. My kids have begun doing it too. They wrap all of the gifts intended for myself or my husband. I started doing this when my oldest daughter was about five years old. Without labels on gifts, it guaranteed that they’d care about their stockings just as much as what was under the tree.

The exception this year, of course, was Presley. She’s hardly old enough to care about her stocking. With that in mind, we wrapped all of her gifts with Baby Shark wrapping paper. She’s such a huge fan of that adorable little yellow shark that we knew she’d get excited when she saw that paper. Sure enough, she tore right into it! Much to our amusement, she also tried to put it back together, to rewrap the gifts that she had just opened.

After all of the gifts were opened and the house was cleaned back up, we all got dressed and headed out to the family Christmas gathering. I cannot stress enough how unenthusiastic I was about going. There was drama this year and I enjoy my quiet, drama-free life at home far too much. Still, we went. My mother-in-law was more than enough reason to make an appearance.

Even though there were family members who showed up with a chip on their shoulders and a passive-aggressive axe to grind, we made the best of it. I couldn’t taste anything, but I ate anyway. We opened our gifts, helped with clean-up, hugged everyone, and headed back home to enjoy the rest of the day at home. The weather was beautiful, so the kids rode their brand new bicycles while I cooked Christmas supper and my husband built toys that didn’t come pre-assembled.

All in all, it genuinely was a wonderful day.

The rest of the year past relatively uneventfully. Kids played to their hearts content. My oldest daughter began learning how to play the guitar that she received from my mom. She’s hoping to learn how to play Taylor Swift songs. Taylor Swift is the entire reason that she wanted a guitar to begin with.

So, here we are in the new year. I’m already planning out my garden and flower beds for the coming Spring despite that cold weather that seemed to come so suddenly after what has been a rather warm holiday season. I will definitely be planting more tomatoes this year. They did so well last year and we ended up with so many. This past growing season, all of the sproutlings that I purchased from the local nursery turned out to be spaghetti squash despite being labeled as other things like summer squash, zucchini, and cucumber, so I think I’ll start from seeds this year to avoid that odd mix-up.


I hope your holidays were joyful and that you found something in this past year to be thankful for.

Happy New Year!

Quinn

I Couldn’t Think of a Catchy Title

Seriously, for this post, I just couldn’t. I am on day four of no caffeine and my brain just isn’t functioning. I know it’ll get better but, right now, it just sucks.

Last week, I went to the doctor to have my thyroid checked. I checked it by myself back in March through Everlywell when I didn’t have health insurance. It was the first time that I’d ever heard of TPO antibodies. None of my doctors over the past few years of dealing with thyroid problems had ever mentioned them. Ever. So, when I tested positive for those antibodies, I decided I needed to be checked by my actual doctor and referred to an endocrinologist. Fast forward to last week. I finally had insurance, so I scheduled an appointment. After a bit of talking, I asked my doctor to check for those antibodies. She did and I got a call the very next day. My TSH was super low and I had quite a bit of the TPO antibodies. Everything else was within normal range. Obviously, I have been referred to an endocrinologist, but I started to wonder what I could do to better my health on my own prior to being seen.

Honestly, my body has been off for a few years now. I eat and within an hour my stomach hurts like crazy. It just hasn’t been a good few years for me and food, ya know? After watching a documentary (I watch way too many documentaries), I decided to try a plant-based diet AND to stop drinking sodas.

I bet you think I’m nuts. Giving up soda and meat all in the same week. But, let me tell you, the experience has already been AMAZING. Four days. The number of days it has been since I last dealt with a bad stomach ache after eating. And the number of days that I’ve gotten close to eight hours of sleep per night. The sleep thing. Yeah. That’s been a bitch. For a few years now, I haven’t gotten more than three to four hours of sleep per night even when medicated, so I’m always tired. I always want a nap. But, the last four days, I’ve had SO MUCH ENERGY throughout the day. And I’m sleeping soundly at night. My handy dandy FitBit has confirmed that. My resting heart rate has come down a bit. My heart rate variability while sleeping has already begun to improve. I don’t have to convince myself to get up and go for a walk. I just want to get up and go outside. It’s been four days, but there are already clear improvements in my health.

Even if it doesn’t help with my thyroid problem, I plan on continuing to maintain a vegan diet and avoid sugary things full of empty calories because I just feel better. That makes it worth it for me.

I should’ve been using Cassey Ho’s recipes a long time ago. She’s onto something!

By the way, if you don’t follow Cassey and Blogilates, you definitely should. She has the BEST energy! I’ve been following her for years and even if I don’t do the workout, my mood is improved just by watching her. She’s just so happy and full of life that it’s hard not to get a mood boost. And she also posts some really great recipes!

And if you’re wondering what I’m drinking instead of sodas, it’s cucumber-lemon water, which is completely amazing, by the way!

Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week!

-Quinn

Sleeping Problems

I won’t drag this one out. Honestly, I can’t really think of a way to write an entire essay about it. Presley, my youngest daughter, is teething. This week, four molars decided to come through all at the same time. FOUR! It has been such an insane week of two to three hours of sleep per night. When I say per night, it’s more of a figure of speech. She goes to sleep somewhere between three and six in the morning. By the time she finally gives up, I am no longer tired and cannot force myself to go to sleep, even with a sleep aid. I finally crash at around eight or nine in the morning.Yesterday, it was after ten. So, if you’re wondering where my “Weekly Motivation” posts have gone, I’ve been too exhausted to put them together.

I’ll get back to it. I swear. I’m just exhausted.

Much love,
Quinn!

What a Long, Strange Year It Has Been

Who else is ready for the new year? I know I am! Everything about this year has been so bizarre.

The kids started Spring Break. That Spring Break ended up lasting the entire summer.

Masks became the norm and, in some cases, a new way to accessorize.

People lost their jobs at an alarming rate.

Small businesses saw their doors shut indefinitely.

Eating in restaurants was a no-no, but congregating in the aisles of Walmart was perfectly acceptable.

So many loved ones were lost.

Children everywhere switched from classrooms that provided the social development that they desperately need to virtual classes that made them feel more isolated than ever.

Louisiana, Alabama, and, well, pretty much the entire Gulf Coast experienced several major hurricanes.

The general election was a fiasco, to say the least.

The current president has yet to concede.

It has been one hell of a year to say the very least.

While I read through all of those things, however, I cannot help but think that there have been several positive things this year that are also worth mentioning.

My youngest daughter just celebrated her first birthday and her first real Christmas. She is non-stop, very bubbly, and as loving as a one-year-old can possibly be. On Christmas Day, she fell asleep after only two presents. Perhaps she was still just that tired.

My oldest daughter also celebrated a milestone birthday this year. She is OFFICIALLY a teenager and I am beside myself. I have been a mom for thirteen years. Somehow, I am old enough to have a teen. I really lucked out with her. She is smart, beautiful, goofy, an amazing big sister, and the best daughter that anyone could ever hope to raise. I am so proud to be her mother.

My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We moved into a new home. The pandemic afforded me the opportunity to leave my job and spend every moment of Presley’s first year with her. Oklahoma has already seen an unusual amount of snow this winter. Cadence and Jack are both doing very well in school. I have so much to be thankful for this year. So many good things have happened and I could not be more genuinely appreciative.

If you, however, find yourself part of the overwhelming number of people who have experienced hardship, loss, heartbreak, or anything remotely awful during the course of the past year, I can only say that my heart goes out to you. I truly, truly hope that the next year is better for you.

With hopes of joy, peace, and the best of wishes,

Happy New Year to you all!



Recovering

Back in late 2011 and early 2012, while I was pregnant with my third child, my self-esteem really took a nose-dive. The pregnancy was normal and free of any real complications. My weight gain was pretty average. For the most part, things were good. Things were consistently good until my at-the-time husband called me over Skype. He was deployed, so that was our means of communication. He called almost daily and that was absolutely part of the problem.

During every call, he commented on how fat I was getting. I was a “whale”, I was “blowing up”, I was “enormous”. By the end of the pregnancy, he had made so many comments about my weight that I had become embarrassed to take my clothes off around him.

After my daughter was born, I bought a scale. My use of this scale start innocently. I would eat normally and workout. At the end of the week, I’d weigh myself. Surely, if I made any progress, the scale would reflect it. It didn’t. No matter what I did, the number didn’t budge. Then he came home from deployment. It’s not that I didn’t want him to. I did. But, after everything he had said to me during the deployment, I didn’t exactly want to be there when he came home. But, there I was.

The next several months were a continuation of those same fights and comments about my weight. What started as weekly weigh-ins became daily. Daily became several times a day. I had let him push me to a point of obsession with my weight.

I no longer wanted to be seen in photos unless I was the one taking those photos. He began walking at a distance from me in public and suddenly stopped showing affection in the presence of others. And I was obsessively weighing myself.

I’ve watched myself, for years now, stepping onto the scale several times a day and being disappointed with the number. When the number disappoints me, I cut back on eating, restricting myself to one meal a day. Then I get on the scale after a week or so of this behavior and see that it has made no real difference, so I binge on food (mainly junk food) to feel better about it. And the number goes up a bit. I go through nearly everything in my closet trying to find an outfit that looks at least decent on me. I stand in front of the mirror, extremely disappointed with the way my body looks in my clothes. And then I buy oversized stuff to hide all of the lumps and bumps.

Now, nearly a decade later, I am slowly beginning the road to recovery. After eight years of back and forth between binge-eating and restrictive eating, I am working on healthier eating habits. Eating a minimum of three full meals a day takes effort. I’ve gotten so use to my self-created patterns that I have to force myself to eat that many times a day, but I’m doing it. Reminding myself to have a healthy snack in between takes effort too, but it keeps away other bad habits like binge-eating. And I’m working on restricting how often I weigh myself. Right now, it’s once in the morning and once at night instead of doing so every time I go to my bathroom. I intend on continuing to restrict it further until I no longer rely on my scale as proof of progress.

Eating disorders aren’t always black and white. And I do not say this to make light of more severe eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or binge eating disorder. As a matter of fact, I’ve been hesitant to see it as an eating disorder because I felt like I was being disrespectful to others who have suffered at the more extreme ends of the spectrum. But, that’s what it is and it’s not always so clear cut. Sometimes, it’s scale obsession followed by restrictive eating followed by more scale obsession followed by binge eating.

I am still learning to determine my worth by who I am rather than by how much I weigh. It is a constant battle to remind myself that the number of calories I eat matters less than what those calories consist of. Eventually, I won’t need to have a conversation with myself about eating right. It’ll come naturally.

In the meantime, if you see photos of food in my Instagram feed at the bottom of my blog, it’s me documenting my meals to help myself.


You are no less valuable at a size 16 than a size 4. You are no less valuable as a 32 A than a 32 C.

Mary Lambert

Week in Review

It’s Sunday morning and the house is quiet. My older children are at church, the baby is sleeping, and my sweet husband is at work. I’m sitting in my living room enjoying the sunshine coming in through the large window and French doors, sipping Earl Gray, and thinking about the things I need to get done today. I’m procrastinating.

It’s not that I do not want to get all of those things done. I do, but I also want to relax and enjoy the silence. The whole house smells of the roast that’s cooking. It’s delightful. I plan to serve it tonight with rolls, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. The kids will go to bed easier with full stomachs and that’ll make them easier to get up for school tomorrow.

Speaking of school, my children returned to traditional classrooms this past Monday. It was time. After months at home, they were noticeably tired of each other’s company. Every minor transgression was a grand injustice and it showed. In addition to that, they no longer had the will to do their online school work or make an effort to pass their open-note tests and quizzes. My patience was hanging by a thread.

The house was blissfully quiet over the course of the week. Presley actually took naps. I was able to get things done. It was wonderful.

So, what have I been up to this week?

Plants

On my birthday, my sister-in-law gave me a few plants. One of those plants was a bicolor Caladium. It was beautiful. The poor plant didn’t last a day. My cats destroyed it that evening while we were out for dinner. I just knew it was a goner, but I decided to keep it anyway. Over the weeks, I continued watering it, even though it showed no signs of life. What was left of the stems had turned black and I was so disappointed. That’s why I was elated when I went to water it this week and noticed a gorgeously vibrant leaf had grown. My Caladium wasn’t dead after all!

I somehow managed to bring it back from absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, this beautiful plant will soon go dormant until Spring when it will come back to life. I’ll be keeping my cats far away from it!

Crafts

I decided to make my own fall decor this year because I can rarely find what I’m looking for and, when I do, it’s always rather expensive. After a bit of shopping around at Dollar Tree, Walmart, and a few other local stores, I’ve managed to get everything I need. While I’m still working on my pumpkins, the wreath is finished and the very large pumpkin that my husband made is painted and on display in our yard.

In addition to the pumpkin and wreath, I put together a floral arrangement, which i absolutely love, for my bathroom counter.

Art

My son was finally able to bring home all of his art from the previous school year this week and it occurred to my how genuinely incredible he is in the creative department. There wasn’t a single piece that I didn’t love. Honestly, I cannot wait to frame it and get it hung around the house.

For 11 years old, I think he’s very talented. After seeing this, I went out and purchased a sketch book and good pencils for him. I can only hope to help nurture that talent and watch it grow.

Closing

My week wasn’t incredibly exciting, but it was a definite change of pace after months of what felt like the same day occurring on a loop. I’ve had some much needed time to myself and that’s everything. I was able to finally get grow bags started, albeit a bit late in the season, and the house started clean for longer than an hour at a time. Yay for small victories!

I hope all of you had a lovely week! Comment below and let me know!

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