Unproductively Productive Weekend

Monday, February 27, 2012

This weekend seemed to be all about the little "midget" that follows me around saying, "Mom, I had a question"
To which I answer,
"what is your question Caroline,"
Only to be followed by a repeat of "I had a question."

She is a trooper with the amount of traveling she does for an "almost two year old". While Ryan does come to Dallas much more than we make the trek up to Arkansas, still, loading up in the car with her movies, "hair phones" (head phones), and lots of snacks every few weeks for two 5 hour drives in 3 days makes her one heck of a travel buddy if you ask me.

Needless to say, with a trip up and coming, Ryan and I spent the weekend pretty much in "play" mode. We had Caroline's favorite breakfast on Saturday at Chick Fil A. There she got to play in the play area for the first time really. She has Ryan to thank for that one. I have always been a little hesitant of that germ infested thing. BUT she had a blast, and too my knowledge she is not slowly being taken over by the gross things lurking in the tunnels.

(Caroline on the slide at Chick-Fil-A)

(Me and Caroline, I was showing her the ropes or should I say tunnels!)

Later on Saturday, we went and ate pizza (what kid doesn't like pizza), and then took Caroline Ice Skating. It probably took us longer to get our skates on than it did for us to skate. But again, Caroline enjoyed it so that's all that we cared about. I think we went around the rink twice, HA, before my back was killing me. Caroline also realized that all she had to do when we were both holding her hands was to hold on and we would skate for her. We quickly changed our strategy on that!

(Caroline liked the ice on the rink)

(Caroline and her Itty Bitty "Boots" as she called them)

(Ryan and Caroline)

After the short lived but very fun and exciting Ice Skating Trip, we walked down to the kids play area at the mall, where I think the highlight of Caroline's weekend occurred. She had SO MUCH FUN running and playing on all the soft structures and slides. It was great. Once the 12 year old boys, who are almost old enough to have JOBS got out of the play area, it was even great for Ryan and I to just sit and talk and watch her run around like a wild animal. I almost went all "where is your mother!?" on the big kids in there, but over all, we all enjoyed it.

I was highly unproductive this weekend with the things that I had planned on doing, but over all I consider this to have been a very successful weekend. What I really took away from it was the understanding of what SHOULD bring you joy in life.

I wanted to get some stuff done, but I feel just as fulfilled having spent a weekend just hanging out with people I love. Having an organized house is only great if you can share it with those you love. Being able to value the time you have with the ones you love is the first step in being about to fully share AND enjoy your life with them.

(Caroline all bundled up!)

Besides, if I enjoy cleaning out socks and jeans more than spending time with those two crazy goons, something is wrong with me! So after countless amounts of jelly beans, tea parties with marshmallows and diet DP, dance parties, and two its-way-past-your-bedtime nights, I consider this weekend PRODUCTIVE.

...and that my Dear, was all she wrote...

A Revealing Valentines

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Valentine's Day was an enlightening one for me. While I in no way am a "Valentine's Scrooge", my feelings about this holiday and others like it were brought to light, and I was really forced to examine the deeper meaning behind my lack of festive commitment.

Don't get me wrong: I celebrated the Day, just not quite up to par with the rest of society, the other pre school moms, or my old self.

Ways I acknowledged The Day Of Love:

1.) I bought Caroline a new Pink Nightgown, Fancy Nancy's Valentines Book, and let her open both and use both the Eve of Valentines and Valentines night.

2.) Bought and Baked Pillsbury Valentines Cookies, let Caroline eat some for breakfast on Valentines day. Let Ryan eat some for breakfast on Valentines day.

3.) I wore my red dress, and dressed Caroline in pink and read hearts with Valentines bows to honor the day.

4.) I had a Diet Coke waiting on Ryan's desk when he got to work with a little "love" note to start the day.

5.) Paid for our Fancy Chinese Take Out ( because eating out on Vday is just ridiculous)

6.) I have had pink, white, and red M&M's out on display to munch on, all month.

Ways I FAILED to honor Valentine's Day:

1.) Though I did provide drinks, I did not have Caroline take "Valentine's Cards" to her preschool party, which supposedly is ASSUMED that they should do, seeing how she came home with a bag containing a card from every classmate. Some mom's even stepped it up and MADE their child's Valentine's Cards including sweet pictures of them, all decorated in red and pink with stickers. While I am ALL for Classmate Valentine's, something about doing it before the children can sign their own name MUCH LESS read the cards, seems a little over zealous. All Caroline cared about was the candy,stuff animals from her grandparents, and balloon my grandparents got her. Those cards will be trashed, and I will be left to feel like I let her down, even though everyone else's cards got trashed as well. (Of course I'm SURE there is some mom out there creating a wall size time piece of every 'first Valentine' their child received. Again... over zealous.)

2.) I did not provide "Teacher Gifts". Yes I know I could have sent a gift set of bath products with no cost to myself. I understand that they work hard, and honoring our teacher's is something to be done. But, first you bring for the teacher, then you have to bring for the assistant, and the after school aid, and Caroline's favorite teacher from last year, and you can't forget the principal if your going to bring for all the teachers, and pretty soon you have a full blown Christmas Like gift giving frenzie and all for what... to say "I Love You" to teachers who she won't even be able to recall in 5 years? So please do me a favor: at the beginning of the school year please specify which holiday's I need to bring a teacher gift to, and which holiday's we are going to allow the teachers' families to celebrate with them instead.

3.) I did not buy, make, or send Ryan anything on February 14th. This- of all failures- is one that actually saddens me more than anything. Initially I looked at some little things here and there that I could get him for Valentines Day, all of which seemed cheesy and not "Courtney Like". Courtney like involves hand made, with glitter and stickers, hearts and colorful print. It involves quotes and paint, and one of a kind gift giving. Normal Courtney gifts include small surprises all day, and something special to wrap it all up, but for some reason NORMAL Courtney wasn't here this Valentines Day. Maybe it's the stress from all the crazy life stuff going on right now. Maybe it was the lack of time to plan and execute with all the traveling, shuffling, and working lately. We had agreed not to buy each other gifts, so maybe it was my overconfidence in this agreement, and that it was what we both really wanted, But whatever the reason, I couldn't get past the fact that February 14th is just a day on the Calendar and in no way could anyone be sad about not receiving on such an "over" celebrated holiday. I justified all my Valentines Faults on this concept alone.

Today: February 15th- I think I'm starting to experience the enlightenment.

Once I really started to think about my this year I have been particularly "un-festive", the reason became clear, and the excuses I have made about it started to pile up. It has dawned on me that the reason I "don't make a big deal about ______(fill in the blank with holiday)" is because I have learned this: putting effort in to what you give, doesn't always mean the effort will be a) appreciated or b) reciprocated. I feel like I have spent a lot of time and effort on what I give people in the past on these little special days, and really never experienced those above mentioned things in return. Selfish. That's what I have been this year. I have learned that when you expect nothing, then nothing can disappoint you. This is a selfish mind set.
(how I feel sometimes ha!)

This train of thinking explains so much of my behavior this past year its unreal. Christmas- for example, with the exception of the Tree (which I procrastinated putting up, left un-decorated for weeks, and promptly took down), I had no decorations. It was a stretch to even get name tags on my presents, let alone cute wrapping and fun bows. I didn't even do a stocking for Caroline because I didn't have her Christmas morning, and didn't get her back home until that night. Clearly Valentines was not super celebrated either.


I hate the way I have become about holidays and birthdays. I have used excuses so much the past few months, but the truth is, I haven't celebrated, because I feel like I'm doing it alone. Caroline has no concept of these days, and up until now, I was the only person ever in my apartment to enjoy the decor. I actually love the holidays! I love the fun crafts, the festive colors, and the fun little gifts and traditions. I need to stop looking at these things as something that needs to be appreciated by anyone but me. If I enjoy doing it, the return shouldn't matter. I want to share those fun things with Caroline, and now Ryan too, and I'm ready to be out of this unfestive funk!

I did send Ryan some fun treats to the office today, with a note saying "...because I love you as much on February 15th as I do on February 14th..." I'm tired of resisting excitement because I don't want to be disappointed, so I have decided to add this self written quote to my 'things to remember'

We can not let our fear of being 'Under Appreciated', keep us from 'Over Appreciating' those around us, less we just may 'Under Appreciate' ourselves along the way.

In conclusion of my enlightenment, sometimes we have to forget about who is going to appreciate the things we do, and do them anyway. As long as you appreciate the work you are performing, then those who love you will too.

...and that my Dear, was all she wrote...

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It seems like in life we go through periods of high stress, periods of complacency, and spike right back up to high stress. RARELY do I find myself in a low to no stress zone. With jobs, and kids, and mortgages, families, finances, and our health, it's a wonder we ever sleep! Currently in the higher stress arena, I have formulated the top 5 things that I believe relieve stress the most! Some of these may seem like "no brainers", and some may just inspire you to give them a try.

1. Sip away your stress- Literally. NO- not with an alcoholic beverage. Drinking a glass of water proves to be a stress reliever as simple as it sounds. It makes sense though. All of our major organs need water to function to their highest levels of efficiency, including our brain and heart. Being just a half liter dehydrated can cause stress on your Cortisol (stress hormone), increasing your overall level of anxiety.

2. Love the stress- Saying the phrase "I love you" to someone you care about, can drastically reduce your stress level. I state this one from personal experience. Reminding yourself that you are loved, and that you love in return, is extremely gratifying. It seems to lessen the pressures of the world, when you can bring yourself down to earth, and recognize the small things that really matter.

3. Laugh at stress- We all know that laughing makes us feel better, but the main reason laughter is so important to reduce stress, is because it reminds us not to take life or ourselves too seriously. Being about to recognize yourself as simply "human", and finding humor in every day situations, improves our levels of Serotonin (happiness hormone). Inclination of happiness, often times OVERRIDES the Cortisol, allowing us to reduce our stress levels.

4. Stress is PURRRRfectly fine- yes, studies show that "petting a cat" can reduce stress. Again this raises your Serotonin and Dopamine levels which triggers happiness and relaxation. It's a combination of soft touch, and calm disposition.

(PS. You can borrow my cat for this one. Go ahead and get her declawed while your at it too)

5. Pin away your stresses- For those of you who use Pinterest.com , you know how stress relieving it can be. If you don't know what pinterest is, then get on and check it out. There is something about looking at stuff you may never otherwise think to look up that tends to calm me down. Pinterest isn't the only way to take a break. By putting your stressful situation aside and reading an unrelated article online, browsing your favorite stores website, or catching up on Facebook can be a nice anxiety reducer. It is important to take breaks in our daily work/routine. This allows us to take our minds off of the stress and focus on something that we find enjoyable.

Overall we all have stress, and it's important for each of us to develop our own PRODUCTIVE strategies to limiting it. Simple things like those mentioned above, tend to be the easiest to continue to utilize. While techniques such as yoga and meditation can also be good stress relievers, the time, space, effort, and energy can often times be overwhelming and causes us to procrastinate these methods. Just remember... It's important to reduce your stress before your stress reduces you.

...and that my Dear, was all she wrote...
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