Friday, January 29, 2016

Natural Hair Pixie Cut For the Win

One of the best decisions I made in 2015 was getting my haircut. I didn't know how much energy I was putting into thinking about my hair until it wasn't there anymore.

When I mean to tell you that my haircut has changed my life I'm not kidding.

I was literally living in a ponytail...

I couldn't even find pictures for this post of me with my hair out. All of the pics on my computer have me rocking braids (which I love) or a ponytail. Sad. In 2015 I went back and forth with the idea of cutting my hair. I really didn't want to get a perm so finding a stylist that could cut and style natural hair was very important to me.

After a long search (it seriously took me all year) I found a stylist that I love. She's professional. She doesn't double book and she's very talented. 

natural hair pixie cut

It has made a world of a difference for me to no longer be worried about, "What am I going to do with my hair....". When my hair is straight I roll the top in rollers and I wrap the back in a silk scarf at night to sleep. It stays straight until it gets wet. 

natural hair pixie cut

I haven't worn my hair naturally curly since getting it cut until yesterday. My birthday is next week so I pushed my hair appointment back to have fresh birthday hair. I washed my hair using Cantu's shampoo and I used Savannah's Just For Me styling products. The results were incredible...

natural hair pixie cut

natural hair pixie cut

Gosh this post was full of selfies. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, cutting my hair has been one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. I don't have much time these days to pull myself together and a haircut has made me look & feel pulled together without much effort.

Now if I could just make it to the gym I might be on my way to shutting 2016 all the way down...

Have you made any changes lately that have improved your quality of life? 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

40 Ways to Recharge Solo

Have you ever just needed to recharge? I'm not talking about a girl's night out or a vacation. I'm talking about a couple hours alone to just breathe and think, recharge.

In the past I have confused this need to recharge with the need to have some good girlfriend time. I would maybe meet a friend for lunch or go shopping and we would have a great time but...

When our little outing was over I'd get back in my car and still not feel recharged. Even though I would have had a blast with my friend I'd still feel like I could use a couple hours completely unplugged. As I have gotten older I have embraced the beauty that is alone time.

Being a military wife has made very comfortable with doing things solo too. Whenever we relocate I do lots of things by myself while I'm getting adjusted to our new surroundings. I thought I would share some of my ideas with you here...

1. Have lunch at a restaurant you have always wanted to try.
2. Visit a makeup counter and have a new look created for you.
3. Find a new fragrance.
4. Volunteer at a local pet shelter. (WARNING: This may result in a new furry family member!)
5. Try a new fitness class.
6. Take a dance class.
8. Paint a picture.
9. Attend a cooking class or demonstration. (Williams Sonoma offers some great free classes.)
10. Go to the movies.
11. Learn a new craft or hobby. (Michael's and JoAnn Fabrics offer classes)
12. Enjoy a mani pedi at a place nicer than your normal nail salon.
13. Get a massage.
14. Do some reading at your local library or favorite book store.
15. Get a haircut.
16. Carelessly wander the aisles of Target or Home Goods.
17. Have some coffee and dessert at a mom and pop diner.
18. Get fitted for a new bra.
19. Go for a walk.
20. Visit an esthetician and get a facial.
21. Check out a new gallery in a museum.
22. Watch the sunrise.
23. Meditate.
24. Clean out your email inbox at Starbucks. Grab a snack and take advantage of that free wi-fi.
25. Shop for swimsuits if it's that time of the year...
26. Or shop for shoes instead.
27. Go thrifting.
28. Pop up at a couple open houses or visit some model homes for interior design inspiration.
29. Visit a local winery...
30. Or buy a few bottles of wine you haven't tried and do a tasting after the kids are in bed.
31. Shop for antiques at a flea market.
32. Take a nap. At a hotel. With room service.
33. Go for a swim.
34. Volunteer at a food bank.
35. Visit a botanical garden and take instagram worthy pics with your 'real' camera.
36. Get behind the wheel of a car that you love during a test drive.
37. Grab one of those coloring books for adults, put on some music and get creative.
38. Play solitaire.
39. Order Chinese and catch up on your DVR.
40. Go for a bike ride.

It is a beautiful thing when you can spend time alone and enjoy it. Treat yourself to some alone time when you can. It is so refreshing to be able to hear yourself think or enjoy something uninterrupted. There's nothing wrong with taking a little time for yourself. See anything on this list that speaks to you? What are some of your favorite ways to spend time alone?

Monday, January 25, 2016

How I Handle the Stress of Being a Mother

Lately I have been so busy. I literally run from one task or baby to the next all day long. It can be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting trying to keep up with everything. I don't know about you but when I recognize myself falling into a place where I have no balance I start practicing some pretty bad habits.

I start looking around at what everyone else is doing, trying to figure out how I can catch up and I find myself complaining more than I should. When this happens I remind myself about three of the best rules that I live by. These three little mantras keep me centered and content in the midst of all the craziness that being a woman tends to bring.

inspirational motherhood quote

Comparison is the thief of joy. Whenever we compare ourselves to others we fight a losing battle with ourselves. What another woman has going on in her life has absolutely nothing to do with my personal journey or God's purpose for my life. We are all on different paths for a reason. Allowing yourself to become distracted by comparing yourself to someone else is one of the biggest mistakes we can make. Therefore, I don't compare myself to anyone else.

As I am growing I have also learned the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. As women, I think we are in situations often where we feel like we have to compete. Whether we realize it or not we feel tempted to keep up with the Joneses. We sign our kids up for all these activities or we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves so that we can 'be the best'. Or so that we can appear to be the best. Motherhood isn't a sport in the Olympics. I don't compete with other women because I recognize that we are all trying to do our best. There's no need to try to out Mom someone. It's stupid. I have learned that you'll run yourself ragged trying to prove to someone else how great you are. Either they'll see it or they won't. Their opinion of you doesn't make you any less awesome.

I think we are all guilty of complaining at some point. The occasional vent is understood but complaining all the time about everything is a slippery slope. I believe that we are the words that we speak. It is always my goal to be careful with what I give life to with my words. Sometimes it's hard when you're in your feelings not to say how you may truly feel about something or someone. It is always my goal to speak positively about whatever I'm going through. No matter what it's about. I don't complain because I have learned that in the end it gets me no where. Instead I pray about everything and complain about nothing. (this is the toughest one for me lately)

These three little mantras help me as a woman and as a mother. When the kids are acting crazy I don't compare us to another family, I don't try to force them to be like someone else's children (me competing as a Mom) and I don't let the occasional vent go too far.

What do you think about the idea of keeping these three Cs in mind when dealing with different issues? I have found that they can be applied to just about any situation.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thought Bubbles 3/52 2016

Well. The eBook went out yesterday and I have been a nervous wreck ever since...

I am so glad that it's Friday...

I am also glad that we live in a place where it doesn't snow...

But at the same time I wish I was home...

I just threw some cookie dough in the oven. Save will be greeted by fresh baked cookies when she gets home from school...

My birthday falls on Super Bowl Sunday this year...

I need to start working out consistently but my motivation is lacking...

We're not even suppose to take selfies at my gym but I snuck this one after a late night session...

I love the way chocolate chip cookies smell when they're right out of the oven...

Why is Sesame Street on HBO?...

I need a good magazine subscription...

And a vacation...

And a pedicure...

My daily salads for lunch have been so good lately...

lunch salad with sardines

Sonya from Saving Everyday with Sonya K put me on to sardines and now I can't get enough...

I am considering wearing a wash n go for the first time since cutting my hair...

My stylist is amazing. She's talented and she doesn't double book. Winning....

Ready for a chill weekend....

Right after I get some cleaning done...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mini Ebook for Mom Cover Reveal

I am so happy to finally be releasing the eBook I wrote last year. Over the last couple of weeks I have been updating the content and getting the formatting down. It has been a true labor of love and I hope everyone enjoys it.

This has been a huge learning experience for me. There is so much that goes into self publishing. I am so fortunate for all I have learned. One of my goals for this year is to complete another (much larger) eBook project. With the knowledge that I have learned from the creation process of the mini eBook I feel so much more confident about going forward with another book.

So here's the cover of the book...

I wanted it to look and feel like a book that could easily be on someone's coffee table but be small enough to fit in someone's diaper bag or purse. Over the next couple of months I am going to research getting some printed copies made.

You still have a couple days left to sign up to receive my book before it's officially released to the public. Signing up to receive the book also puts you on my mailing list for future exclusive offers like my next project and giveaways.

I know I say this often but thanks so much for all the love and support. Next month this blog turns four and I feel like I am finally starting to realize the true purpose for this space. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy MLK 2016

Every year for MLK I share a craft or this video that Savannah was blessed to be apart of. I hope everyone is enjoying time with their families as we reflect on the Dr. King's dream for our country.

  264th Medical Battalion Equal Opportunity MLK Observance 2014 from JOE MUSTANG on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ICYMI: Face to Face Fridays 1/52

Every Friday I'll be sharing a motherhood snippet or Q&A session on Facebook. Last week three readers submitted questions about adjusting to life with three kids, our daily routine and how we chose the name Moses for our #grandfinalebaby.

If you have a question that you would like me to answer during a F2F Friday video leave it in the comments, hit me up on FB, tweet me or send me an email. We can talk about fashion, food, motherhood, pop culture - you name it!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mini EBook for Moms

Happy Monday! We're in the second week of the year already. I am keeping my word to myself and building momentum to achieve my goals for the year.

Yesterday I attended my first fitness class of the year. I will talk more about that later this week. Over the weekend I also had a chance to work on the cover for the eBook I've been working on. I also had a chance to give myself a refresher on all of the self publishing platforms that are available. After reading lots of terms and conditions on several sites I have selected one that I think will be perfect for my first project.

I am scared to death of this release. What if no one likes it? What if no one reads it? So many what ifs have crossed my mind. The thing is that I feel like I'm suppose to be creating this type of content for women. It's like I have this little voice telling me to do it and every month (or year) that goes by without me doing anything I feel like that voice gets louder and louder.

Listen to the whispers. Trust your instincts. Move forward with confidence.

goals quote

During a conversation with my Mother I realized that if I constantly allow the fear of all the what ifs hold me back I'll never know what greatness may be waiting for me. Being creative and putting out work is something you just have to do. You have to just go for it even if you don't feel ready. 

I am taking my own advice here. 

If I keep waiting until I'm ready I may miss my blessing. Listen to the whispers, Tia. 

What fears are you pushing past to realize some of your goals?

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Thought Bubbles 1/52 2016

My Face to Face Fridays on Facebook video is still uploading...

I started the upload last night around nine...

Still can't believe it's 2016...

Or that I have three kids...

Or that we're moving in five months...

I need a new tripod or selfie stick for my phone...

I broke the one I had yesterday. That's what I get for buying the $5 version at Walmart...

For some reason the video is uploading faster now...

It's a foggy cold day today...

We have books that need to go back to the library...

Today is my mother's birthday...

We sang to her this morning and it was so much fun...

Over Christmas break I found three new TV shows that I LOVE...

Grandfathered, The Grinder and Younger...

Younger is a must-see if you like Sex and The City...

I'm going to my first barre class since having the baby on Sunday...

I hope I make it without passing out...

If I do pass out, at least I'll be cute in my new workout outfit...

It's being delivered soon and I'm trying to sneak that package in here...

Don't judge me...

I just read the funniest email...

Kanye's Real Friends and Facts need to be on my workout playlist...

I think I have a final draft for the cover of my eBook...

I've had T.I.'s "Motivation" stuck in my head all week...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tips for NICU Parents

NICU babies are under some of the best care a parent could ask for. I was very pleased with the level of care my son received. Knowing that he was in good hands made his time there a little easier to manage emotionally.

Something that I wasn't quite prepared for was how I would feel and handle his stay. I knew he would be there after delivery but I still wasn't prepared for how his NICU stay was going to effect me. I was handed an pamphlet of helpful info during our first visit to see him. It covered everything from commonly used terms to what to do if you experience baby blues.

NICU Parent Tips

I had the baby blues so bad. I didn't think I would have them but I did. I would cry for no reason at all. I would cry when people asked how he was doing. I would cry when we would leave him for the night. I never wanted to leave. My husband would have to literally drag me out of the door so that I could get some sleep. It was intense. I would have to say that even though my blues got better as the days went on I didn't truly start to feel better until a couple days ago. 

Complicated pregnancies and NICU experiences aren't in the dreams that women have when they imagine themselves pregnant. So when you find yourself in a position like that it's tough. People always give Kim K such a hard time because she's vocal about how much she hates being pregnant but what people don't understand is a complicated pregnancy is so bittersweet. Sweet because there's a sweet baby coming and that's a blessing. Bitter because going through a complicated pregnancy is one of the most miserable ways to spend the better part of a year. And no one ever talks about the Moms who can't help that they aren't "happy, glowing and pregnant". Some of us are literally just trying to make it to our due dates. Or as close to that date as possible.

So anyway, once you find yourself in an early delivery and a baby in the NICU be prepared to have all of the emotions. After my son's delivery I felt happy, relieved, angry, guilty, sad, embarrassed, tired and torn. Happy because he was here. Relieved that I was no longer pregnant and could start the road to getting better. Angry because I wasn't ready for it to be over. Guilty because I couldn't give my son the start every baby deserves. Sad because I felt like he was lonely in the NICU and needed me. I'm not sure why I was embarrassed but I was. Tired because I was trying to spend equal amounts of time at home and at the hospital. And torn because I never knew who to spend time with first or who to spend more time with.

If you start to experience baby blues or any signs of PPD please ask for help. Let someone know how you're feeling. Here are some of my tips for making your time as a NICU parent a bit easier...

Know that there is nothing you could have done to change things.
Visit as often as you can.
Breastfeed or pump milk for your baby.
Ask when they feed & change the babies and try to plan your visit for those times.
Don't be afraid to hold, feed and change your baby if it's ok.
Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times. (I can't smell Purell without thinking of the NICU.)
Ask questions and make sure you understand what's going on with your child. (The NICU staff does not mind you asking questions or asking to be involved in your child's care.)
Join the NICU Parent Support Group at your hospital if they have one.
Keep a bottle of water in your bag.
Get as much rest as you possibly can.
Let people help you. Let people help you. Let people help you.
Learn what all of the different monitor alarms mean.
Be familiar with the terms used in the NICU. (Nutritive, non-nutritive, grams to pounds conversion, etc.)
Take a night off. (Carissa from The Green Eyed Lady Blog gave me this tip. Visit her blog to read her NICU story and tips for parents.)
Label all of your baby's blankets and clothes if you choose to leave items at the NICU.
Take lots of pictures.
Keep a journal of your child's care or write down the big milestone's in a baby book.
If your child is still preemie size when discharged make sure you have a car seat suitable for babies four pounds & up. (We used the Chicco Keyfit30. He was 4lbs5oz when he came home.)
Talk to your spouse, family and friends about the baby's progress. 
Stay encouraged.
Don't be ashamed.
Cry when you need to.
Have a small quiet family dinner at home when your baby is released. Celebrate their arrival.

I hope these tips help someone on their on NICU journey. If you have a family member or friend with a child in the NICU offer to help them in some way. Babysit their kids at home, bring them a meal or simply just offer to be a listening ear. 

So many of my friends made dinner for my family while we waited on my Mom to come help us. It was one of the biggest blessings I could have asked for and I appreciated it so much.

Also, if you have newborn or preemie size baby clothes that you need to get rid of consider donating them to your local hospital.

Thanks again for reading about our #grandfinalebaby's journey. We are so happy to have little Moses home with us now. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Our NICU Story

Immediately after Moses was born he was taken to the NICU. I did get to have a quick moment with him in the operating room before they whisked him away. It is a standard rule my husband always stays with the baby after I deliver so he went with them to be with our son while the doctors finished up my surgery.

*This has nothing to do with his NICU stay but I do want to share that my doctors said during my surgery that they, "Don't understand how I got pregnant." During surgery she told me that she would perform another tubal and "sterilize" me and "Hopefully that will work for you." I was laying on that table like, "Whatchu mean "hopefully"...."*

After surgery I was taken back to my room for recovery. If you have ever had a c-section you know that your time spent immediately after surgery can be a little iffy. You're not really sure what to expect as you come down off all the anesthesia. This is the first time that I didn't throw up after a delivery. I was feeling really well until the medicine started to wear off and I got a case of the shivers that was so bad. I was literally freezing the way I normally would during surgery. At that point I wasn't sure if the warm blankets helped me or hurt me because I still ended up with the shakes.

That was the worst of my recovery though. I was wheeled off to my postpartum room where I'd be until I was discharged. Once I was there I immediately started pumping to get my breast milk supply going. My husband came back from the NICU and he wheeled me over there to see our baby. He was tiny. I remember feeling so broken hearted and defeated to see him that way. In his little "spaceship" bed plugged up to so many monitors and a feeding tube.

After meeting with the doctors of the NICU they explained to us that the NICU journey is a day by day thing. They would be testing him, giving him ultrasounds and different tests (like an eye exam and a hearing test) to make sure that even though he was born early that he had developed those skills in utero. His doctor told us that the main thing that keeps a healthy baby in the NICU was learning to suck and eat. Moses was born at 32w6d. We were told that most preemie babies will begin to suck at around 34-35 weeks of their gestational age. My heart just started to sink because that meant we could expect him to be in the NICU for at least about two weeks at the very least. 

I was discharged from the hospital after a couple days. Normally you have that rush of excitement to be finally going home with you baby. I felt awful. I can not really put into words how depressing it is to give birth to a baby and not take the baby home with you. I was so sad. Mainly because I wasn't ready for my pregnancy to be over. Even though it was a tough time I really wanted to allow him to keep growing until at least week 37. I felt so guilty for not being able to give him a better start. I still feel guilty about that actually.

During his time in the NICU his bilirubin numbers fluctuated. He went through light therapy several different times before he was able to be in his crib without the lights. (The above pic is why we nicknamed his bed a spaceship.) Moses never had a problem breathing so that was a blessing. It took him a little time to regulate his body temperature. At this time he had a feeding tube in his belly button.

Somewhere around his ten day mark things began to shift. He was able to be in his bed without the lights and he seemed to be holding his temperature which meant that I could start attempting to feed him once during the day and night. His feeding tube was moved to his nose and we started giving him the chance to learn to suck. The NICU had a therapist come teach us how to hold him to encourage him to stay awake for his feedings. Preemie babies are so tired from all of the developing that they do so in the beginning he would sleep right through his scheduled bottle time. 

It took a lot of practice and a lot of patience to work through the feedings. I had been hoping that he would be home for Thanksgiving and I could tell that wasn't going to happen. His doctors were really pleased with his progress and told us that the only thing that was keeping him in the NICU was his inability to eat. Moses had already gained enough weight to go home (he was a whopping four pounds), he could regulate his body temp so all he had to do was take all his feedings. At first I was attempting to nurse him because that's what I've always done. During the day when I couldn't be there his nurses were giving him expressed breast milk in a bottle. My husband and I decided that we would switch to doing bottles only because we didn't want him exhausting energy (and possibly losing weight) during nursing sessions. I asked the nurses to change his feeding schedule to fit my pumping schedule so we'd be on the same schedule whenever he came home.

Slowly but surely he started taking the bottle better. He was moved to an "open air" bassinet. That's a big deal in the NICU. It was such  a nice surprise to see him outside of the spaceship for the first time the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day we were so excited for our visit. The holiday just didn't feel the same without him being home even though he'd never been home before. When we walked into the NICU we were greeted with the most amazing news. Moses had taken an entire bottle at his feeding that morning!!!

All it took was that one bottle and he soared through the rest of his feeding stages. The feeding tube in his nose was removed. He had an eye exam to check the development of his retina. Everything checked out okay. Next was another ultrasound of his brain to check for bleeds. The vessels of the brain are very fragile so the doctors check them again before sending a baby home. His day seven ultrasound showed no bleeds but this second ultrasound showed some very small grade one bleeds. The doctors assured us that those types of bleeds heal themselves but that he would need a follow up ultrasound after he was discharged. He would also need an ultrasound on his hips because he was born breech. 

He had his hearing checked a few days later and passed. We were scheduled to have an overnight stay with him after he passed his car seat test. The overnight stay went well and on December 6 Moses was discharged from the hospital. 

So far all of his follow up appointments have gone well. His follow up eye exam showed that his eyes were developing perfectly. He has his follow up ultrasounds for his hips and brain this week. I am praying that those go well. He has doubled his birth weight and is now weighing right at six pounds. The NICU did such an amazing job of getting him on a schedule. He's still on that same schedule of eating about every 3 to 4 hours and sleeping for pretty good stretches of time.

So that sums up our NICU stay. I still can't believe he's been home for almost a month now. He'll start therapy for preemie babies around six months to encourage his development to be on track with that of a full term baby. We are so thankful for the doctors and nurses that took such good care of him. We are also thankful for all of the prayers. There is nothing like having a child in the hospital. Watching all the parents go through their own journeys with their babies was hard. I still pray for the families that were there when we were. 

In the next post for this series I'll share some tips for getting through your NICU journey. I'll also share more of the feelings I experienced after he was born. Thank you for reading his story.

Friday, January 1, 2016

All About 2016

Dang... It's 2016. Just like that 2015 is old news.

I'm glad to be ushering in a new year. I spent the majority of 2015 pregnant, in and out of the hospital, chasing these kids and supporting my husband through his last semester of grad school. So when I say that I am HAPPY to see 2016 I mean it!

happy new year 2016

I achieved almost everything I wanted to last year. I don't have any huge resolutions or lifestyle changes to make for 2016.  All I want to do is pick up where I left off in 2015 and keep going. The New Year is a great time to start fresh and create momentum.

What do you want to do in life? Who do you want to be? Where would you like to go? It's never too late to dream big and go after those dreams with a fearless ambition. Like my husband says, "It's never too late to make a good decision."

That's what I am going to do in 2016. I will continue to fearlessly make decisions that align with my dreams and goals. I pray the same for all of you. I pray that God's blessings continue to abundantly overflow in your life. Use Motherhood as your motivation to be a dream chaser. If you don't show your children how to reach for their goals who will?

Here are my goals for 2016:

Set time aside daily for Bible Study.
Publish my eBook that was written in 2015. (Hitting inboxes, Amazon and iBooks Jan 15, 2016)
Exercise, Workout, Snapback...
Properly prepare for our upcoming move. (I'll share our next duty station soon!)
Complete my next writing project by Thanksgiving. (Another eBook for the '16!)
Continue to blog consistently & build a brand that produces consistent income.
Send out Christmas cards.
Take more pics with my husband. (We have so many pics of us with these kids but hardly any of just the two of us. I need documentation of how dope we are as a couple this year.)

That's all for me! What are some of your goals? Share them with me. I want to cheer you on this year! 

Happy New Year!