the lessons of 2016

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2016 felt like one long giant kick in the balls but, hey, I made it! WE MADE IT! It an effort to remain grateful for even the most gratuitous moments the last year graced me and my family with, I am putting forth as much effort I can muster to appreciate the lessons it taught me. So, without further ado, here is what I learned while doubled over in the fetal position...

  1. Change is almost always good but it is not always easy to embrace or adjust to. 
  2. No one is immune to experiencing the many ebbs and flows of life. All in due time. 
  3. Some years, there will be more ebbing than flowing and that shit will be hard but just know that life has a way of balancing itself out.  
  4. Some days, the kids being fed, warm, and alive is enough. Any self-imposed goals of a day free of tantrums or an adequate consumption of leafy green food will have to fuck themselves back into a Pepperidge Farm non-organic goldfish box where they belong. 
  5. Being tired turns me into an asshole, my kids into tyrants, and my husband into a very scared, emotionally abused man.
  6. Even mommy throws tantrums and even your kids wake up in bad moods for no other reason than wanting to piss you off. Tomorrow is a new day to try harder to not be an asshole. 
  7. Empathy involves listening without speaking, holding space for someones' pain without negating it, and reminding them that they are not alone in their struggle. Life is isolating enough-- hard enough-- without making someone feel terrible for simply being human.  
  8. A great number of people are addicted to outrage. Coincidentally, a great number of people are assholes. 
  9. Anyone who makes you feel like you have to prove your worth is the one guilty of proving that they aren't worthy. I should not and will not justify the degree to which I've only proven I'm human because it makes you feel better about your own lack of humanity. 
  10. Never say never because swallowing those words taste a whole lot more like vinegar than they do honey. Especially when those words begin with "When I'm a parent, I'll never do...." 

 

a look back at 2016 + intentions for the new year

Commissioned painting of our family done by my incredibly talented and dear friend, Emily. You can see the colorful version of the painting here.

Commissioned painting of our family done by my incredibly talented and dear friend, Emily. You can see the colorful version of the painting here.

Do you, like me, roll your eyes the moment someone declares the upcoming year to be THE year they embrace a new, better, healthier version of themselves? I mean, it's well-intentioned, of course. It's just that that kind of declaration is bound to set you up for failure. Living under the impression that all one needs is the turn of a calendar page to miraculously possess the discipline to do whatever it is you're convinced you need to do differently from years past seems kind of ridiculous. Does January 1st demand something different from us than... say... June 13th?

 

I digress.

 

I will admit that I do appreciate any opportunity to reflect. I also find it a healthy dose of perspective to process where I've stood, where I'm currently standing, and where I'd like to be. As I look back on 2016, I have ultimately decided that 2016 mostly felt like a battle of extremes where the majority of my energy was devoted to adjusting and assisting the girls' adjustment from our move from NY back to NC. It was a foggy, messy, blur of a process, of which I'm not all-together confident is actually over. When I wasn't explaining to Marlo why "I was the worst person in the world for moving her away from her best friends and favorite playground" (yes, that was an actual reoccurring conversation), I was merely trying to survive a level of physical exhaustion I've yet to previously experience thanks to Edie's malfunctioning ear canals.

 

Coincidentally, 2016 was also the year that made me question if I was had any fucking clue whatsoever what I am doing as a parent. By mid-September, I came to the annoyingly obvious conclusion that I remain as moderately ill-equipped to be any of the things that are expected of me as a mom as I was before I actually birthed a human. How enlightening!

 

But I kept on keeping on, trying like hell to figure how to be the mom my girls needed me to be. And, though the process was painstakingly difficult and often punishingly futile, admitting to myself that I have approximately zilch figured out gave me the boost to keep pushing onward and upward. In my mind, if the job wasn't done, neither was I. 

 

I fucked up a lot in 2016, too.

 

I lost my temper over the most embarrassingly ridiculous things. I let the unimportant details of the everyday get the best of me. I wasn't always grateful. I threw tantrums and behaved like a brat. I let the poor behavior of others affect my emotional well being when they weren't even worth an ounce of my energy to begin with. I went against my better judgement which bit me in the ass EVERY SINGLE TIME. I didn't always give it all I've got to give because either a) I was too tired or b) I simply didn't want to. I wasn't always kind to myself nor did I give myself the amount of I grace I pass out to everyone else like candy. 

 

And, when you know better and choose to not do better, there are no worthy justifications or excuses. You just have to own the fucking up. 

 

Looking forward into the year ahead, I will make no grand declarations or bold statements about about what I hope 2017 to hold for me or my family. I only want to continue being the best possible version of myself/wife/mother/friend/daughter I can be because my people and I deserve that.

 

That means following my gut instincts instead of ignoring them, standing my ground when pressed to back down, giving my kids more space to be themselves and not allowing them to be shamed for being human, embracing the messiness of the everyday because the message lies somewhere deep within that mess, blocking out the noise of what others may think, accepting the crazy but not engaging it, giving myself permission to rest without the guilt trip, taking up verbal/physical/emotional space without apology, holding myself as accountable as I hold others, writing as often as I feel I have something to say, treating my body and mind as though I love myself because I do, and remaining grateful to wake up every morning and have the opportunity of living and loving the amazing, abundant, complicated, beautiful, messy life I am so, so fucking lucky to lead beside the three other souls in that picture.

 

Trying harder to be our best, even when the effort feels impossible or the outcome proves pointless, counts for something because continued effort in the face of obstacles fucking matters. That level of tenacity should be worn as a badge of honor because it sure as shit isn't easy. At the very least, the degree to which we put forth effort should be enough to detract from our endless list of shortcomings.... Right?!

 

Happy 2017, y'all. I hope it's a beautiful one.

christine x

a parting gift | DIY all-natural body scrubs

As a party parting gift, I whipped together two different variations of an all-natural foot scrub for my mama friends. Though they may look all kinds of clever and crafty, it would be misleading of me to not divulge that they're incredibly easy to make or to allow any fanfare over my non-existent pinterest-y capabilities. 

In case you want to make some for yourself (they also make thoughtful stocking stuffers and hostess gifts!), here's the recipe along with a bonus organic coffee + brown sugar body scrub that I made due to a spare ten minutes and an abundance of leftover mason jars.

Foot + Body Scrub

(makes about eight 4 oz jars)

The Scrub Base:

2 cups mineral sea salt

2 cups Pacific sea salt

8 oz  fractioned coconut oil

 

Peppermint Foot + Body Scrub

10 drops peppermint essential oil

10 drops melaleuca essential oil (tea tree)

10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

 

Citrus Hand + Body Scrub

10 drops grapefruit essential oil

12 drops wild orange essential oil

8 drops lemon essential oil

Mix salts and oil together in a large nonporous bowl (plastic or glass is best) and add in the essential oil combination of your choice. It should have a wet sand-like consistency without an abundant excess of oil like you often see when you buy a pre-packaged scrub from the store. Ration into jars. 

*You need to wash your bowl with soap and water after making peppermint-based scrub. Peppermint oil tends to mask any other scent you may want to be using. Also, be sure to not touch your eyes after handling the peppermint oil. It's just as bad, if not worse, than a jalapeño. 

**Other great oil combinations would be lavender + ylang ylang + roman chamomile and rose + geranium

 

 

Sugar Body Scrub

(makes about 4-4 oz mason jars)

1 cup organic dark brown sugar

1 cup organic coffee

2 tbsp raw Manuka honey

4 oz organic sweet almond oil (jojoba oil would work just as well) 

*a coarse to medium ground coffee works best in this scrub.

 

 

**a note on presentation**

Any jar that has a tight fitting lid will work well for this. I bought two of these 12-packs and they worked particularly well. They also happen to be especially cute for gift giving and rather cost effective.

I also bought these cute mini burlap sacks to use in lieu of traditional gift bags and attached craft paper gift tags listing the scrub details. I added one of these ridiculously adorable tiny wooden scoops into each of the bags that I scored on Amazon as an extra little touch because I, personally, can't stand having to use my hand to scoop out scrub; it always gets under my fingernails and irks me to no end. Which is clearly ridiculous seeing as how I obviously have to... you know... use my hands to actually massage the scrub onto my body. 

 

five things | spirit dresses, newborns, and vegas

Between the lack of sleep, the harsh heaviness of what is happening around the world, and feeling like I've got no more figured out about parenting than I did when I became a mother, the week felt harder than my average week.

Within the midst of such frustration, there were also a lot of hidden bright spots, all of which were easily visible when I simply made the effort to look for them.

Here are five of those things:

1. Along with my best gal, April, I'm hosting some college girlfriends for our annual "Mama's Gettin' Lit" holiday party. This year I had the genius idea to enforce a strict dress code, requiring people look as lit as they were going to be after they drink a few rounds of the cocktail I'm making. The only issue is that I am the opposite of fancy; I dress like a teenage boy most days (errr... all days) so when I say that I had nothing to wear, it's literal and minus hyperbole. And what does one do when a viable excuse warrants buying a new dress? You definitely don't ask questions or wear your denim cut-offs non-ironically. Nope. You go and buy yourself a new dress, dammit, because, contrary to popular belief and even though my everyday uniform says otherwise, I do enjoy feeling pretty. (But not too pretty, you know? I mean, I do have a reputation to uphold.) And so, I began my search, asking myself, "Hmmm, if a dress could be my spirit animal, what would that dress look like?" Surely, it would be a mustard velvet flutter-sleeve maxi wrap dress that is one part sexy, one part bohemian, and two and a half parts comfortable. Then, by some combination of good luck and ancient wizardry, the deep seas parted and the world wide interwebs provided. Ladies and gentleman, I give you my Spirt Dress. #mamastillgotit

2. My co-hosting partner-in-crime, April, came over last night to help do a little party prep (i.e. drink red wine and eat Justin's peanut butter cups while passing her newest baby, Collier, back and forth). Mo has been begging me for the past five weeks to meet the newest addition of our tribe and, since my ovaries were due for their weekly maintenance test, clearly I had no other choice but to oblige her. As April and I watched Mo melt into a puddle of love while holding Baby Collier, I couldn't help but think, "For fuck's sake, Mo, why couldn't you be this sweet and cute and care this much about babies when it was YOUR OWN LITTLE SISTER IN YOUR ARMS?!?!"

3. When she finally stopped being so damn selfish and gave me a turn with my baby boy (I mean, April's baby boy), Mo grabbed my phone from the couch to take a picture of me holding Collier. When I looked back at the picture she took this morning, it hit me just how natural holding a newborn will always feel. Their distinct smell, the way their legs tuck into their stomach and their body curls into your arms like a puzzle piece finding its' match, how you subconsciously begin gently swaying as soon as the weight of their body rests onto yours, and the tiny grunts and lip quivers... they're just intoxicating. And dangerous. It doesn't matter how far removed you are from the newborn stage, once you have become privy to experiencing newborn goodness, there will never be a time when you're able to deny their magic.

4. Joe conveniently flew into Vegas from London for a few days spent with his best college buddies and a whole lot of whiskey and Carolina basketball. After the week I've had with the girls and their less than stellar sleeping habits, I have six words for you (and by YOU, I'm looking at you, Joe): GIRLS WEEKEND. CHARLESTON. ROSE. ALL DAY. Make it happen. 

5. And as far as The Ovarian Status Update, I am here to report that my ovaries are violently quivering and have asked to take the next couple of days off in order to recover from the beating they took last night from Mo and her tiny love, Collier. Ovaries A and B spoke loud and clear, telling me that torture by way of witnessing Mo hold and gush over a particularly handsome cherub is unnecessary. On behalf of their entire reproductive system, Ovary A would like to add that Mo slyly mentioning that she "wouldn't mind one bit if you have a little boy because this one is kind of cute, mama..." is akin to torture. 

2017 | no sucking allowed

Here's a nutshell rundown of the last five years: 

2011: Break-up, make-up, and get back together with Joe only to make-up so frequently that you become pregnant with Mo. Get engaged.
2012: Turn 25, get married, give birth to Mo, attempt to figure out how to be a mom, become increasingly depressed, buy one-way tickets and move to NYC away from everyone you know and love.
2013: Continue to be depressed, continue to figure out how to be a mom, have an emergency stomach surgery, decide that you really hate New York, go to an ungodly expensive therapist, pull yourself out of depression, eat a lot of pizza. 
2014: Have another emergency stomach surgery (on Mother's Day, no less), decide you want another baby, get pregnant with said other baby, try to hate New York less, fail miserably, face another New York winter.
2015: Give birth to Edie, eat your own placenta, congratulate your husband on earning his Master's by repetitively sending him NC house listings, welcome the year of the Threenager, convince yourself that you can actually die from exhaustion, buy a home in Charlotte off of the internet site unseen, decide that you're done having children, pack up and ship out to NC.
2016: Constantly wonder if you wasted away the three years you were lucky enough to live in New York, question every single decision you've made over the last five years, continue to fail at parenting, travel to the Bahamas, survive on as little sleep necessary to prevent full mental psychosis, apologize profusely for the color of your house to any and all guests (it's shit brown), listen to your daughter tell you how much she hates living in Charlotte and sob, watch Donald Trump get elected POTUS, decide that hell must be wearing a coat, begin feeling that all-too-familiar ache in your ovaries, kick your own ass because you know better than to definitively declare the state of one's ovaries closed for business, continue to not sleep, continue to fail at parenting, avoid your pulsing ovarian ache (and your husband' penis). 

I was going to write a list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2017. Like eat less sugar, drink more waterread two books a month, and maybe swear in front of the children a little less. But, when all is said and done, my expectations are so impossibly low that I will only dare ask of 2017 that it suck a little less than its' predecessor.

 

Now, if by chance, 2017 decides that it is feeling generous and wants to ensure that we start off on the right foot, I wouldn't be opposed to a little extra sleep and a lot less toddler attitude, ya' feel me?!